chapter  9
26 Pages

Suffering and Thinking The Scandal of Tone in Eichmann in Jerusalem

By many accounts, the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem coincided with and accelerated the emergence of the Holocaust into the collective memory of the twentieth century. The word “Holo­ caust” was coming into popular use; its historians were publishing in noticeably greater numbers with the benefit of broader archival and ethnographic research; personal testimony about the Holocaust was losing its stigma, significantly as an effect of the trial itself; and a new generation, particularly in Israel, was stirring up controversy by ask­ ing difficult questions of survivors, who had been reluctant to discuss in public the atrocity that had defined their lives. Because we have grown so accustomed to the Holocaust as a fixture of the public imagination and because testimony to trauma perse became so prom­ inent a feature of late-twentieth-century culture (at least in the United States), we may need to remind ourselves of the emotional intensity and intellectual uncertainty that attended these changes in public discourse.